The growing and learning continue…

It is time to wrap up my Major project for #eci831. My garden has grown, and I have grown in my gardening knowledge and in the way I can navigate the internet, apps and a variety of platforms to learn new things.

Final garden tour complete with real bird sounds!

Before and After photos sum up the work that has been done. The part that I am most proud of is the vegetable garden. It was planted with thought, research and intention. The plants have been paired with others that will encourage growth, the proper seeding directions were followed and the placement of the plants was carefully considered according to my research. I can’t wait to see what the final product is! Regardless, I love watching the garden grow as there are noticeable changes every week.

Before- not knowing what everything is.
After- I have now identified all the plants and know how to care for them.
Final mystery plant bloomed this week- Blanketflower (Thanks to Virtual Look Up on my iPhone.)
First Day Lily bloom this week.

My favourite sources for this assignment have been: Feedly, TikTok, Youtube and Twitter.

Thanks for following along!

Connection through gardening

This week took a turn for my family. My mother-in-law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. We needed to drop everything and head to Ontario to be with family. Fortunately, my in-laws were recently in Saskatchewan to visit during May long weekend. At that time, we shopped for our plants together, had a crazy chat about manure and discussed how our gardens are similar but also very different as I don’t have to worry about the deer eating my garden!

Last week, I was able to connect further with my father-in-law while helping him with the garden. Letting him know what plants were growing and how he could care for them going forward.

In my previous posts, I mentioned No Mow May and other suggestions that I have found about maintaining the lawn and attracting pollinators. When I was walking around my in-laws’ yard I couldn’t help but notice how special their yard looks with wildflowers as parts of the lawn are cut less regularly.

Photo was taken at my in-laws in Ontario

After a week away from my yard, I am thankful for underground sprinklers which watered the lawn as well as the perennial beds. My brother and his family kindly kept my vegetable garden watered every other day which only left me weeding and grass mowing after two weeks of growth.

My research this week concentrated on pruning, identifying plants and planting cucumbers.

Garden tour.


Poppies– Once the flowers have bloomed you are to cut off the stem, deadhead, so that new blooms can possibly come. It also looks much neater. I missed many of my poppies blooming this week however, there are still a few buds that I hope will open this week.

Lambs Ear– Similar to the poppy, when the purple flowers in the middle have finished blooming you will cut that stem off right at the bottom and you will be left with the fuzzy leaves.

Tomatoes- I cut the leaves off the plant that are touching the ground and a few inches up. This is to help the energy go to the main stem to produce larger fruit. It also helps with the airflow. The next stage of pruning is to remove the suckers. My plants aren’t large enough for this yet. @perkyplantparent on TikTok

Plant Identification

I went back to Facebook’s Saskatchewan Gardeners page to identify the last mystery plant in the front perennial bed. I was not disappointed as they came through again. It is a Veronica and Saliva.


Cucumbers– The almanac suggested that the window for planting cucumber seedlings in my area started Thursday, June 15th. I got mine in the ground today. I purchased three plants a few weeks ago but hadn’t put them in yet. They didn’t get proper care this last week so I purchased three more today just to be sure but planted all six. I had been searching Tiktok for information on planting cucumbers. Many videos were saying to plant the cucumbers with a vertical trellis to encourage the plant to climb. I decided to plant them following the advice of @notjustgreenfingers, the video below. I also found lots of helpful information on Youtube.

To end off the weekend, I picked the rhubarb from our back garden bed. I brought this plant with us when we moved one year ago this weekend. It produced 4 cups of chopped rhubarb, exactly what I needed to make a special rhubarb crisp for our Father’s Day dessert.

Finally, here is this week in pictures.

Lambs ear.
A bee hard at work.
Poppy in bloom
Many peonies in bloom
Can you smell it?

See you back here next week for the final wrap-up and before and after comparisons. The neighbourhood cat must be up to something else as I haven’t seen him in my garden for a few weeks.

Reuse, Revise, Retain, Remix and Redistribute

Read that title again: Reuse, Revise, Retain, Remix and Redistribute. These are the 5 R’s that go along with Open Education. Thinking about those 5 words in an educational context is exciting = Sharing. Having free resources to change or alter to fit your context and then share them again when you are finished, I like how that sounds.

Of course, I have questions. The first questions that come to mind for me are:

  1. What are the implications of Open Education?
  2. How do you know the quality and accuracy of the resources?

This video helps point you in the right direction to have a better understanding of Open Education and where to go to get some of the questions answered.

From these videos, videos shared in class and our discussion with Alan Lavine last week here is what I have come to understand:

  1. Open Education prevents outdated information specifically in textbooks.
  2. Open Education saves A LOT of money on textbooks making it more accessible to more people worldwide.
  3. Quality education for everyone.
  4. We have been doing it for a long time without knowing- taking clips from movies and putting song lyrics to them.
  5. Develops creativity.
  6. Connecting people to people through the internet.
  7. Making student assignments more meaningful by sharing them, getting feedback and allowing others to build on them.

A question that keeps repeating itself for me is the fact that it is making education more accessible to people worldwide however, if technology is not accessible to everyone worldwide how do we reach everyone?

I believe very strongly in Teamwork. It’s important in my everyday life, family, sports and teaching. We shouldn’t be a lone island nor should we have to reinvent the wheel. Open Education, OER and Open Pedagogy seem to fit well into the idea of teamwork. For the love of the game or for the love of teaching, teamwork makes it happen.

From the TSN Facebook page

My understanding is in progress but I can start small. I will continue to share my resources with my colleagues and start thinking outside the box about student assignments and how they can be shared keeping privacy in mind.

Here are some accounts that I have found on Twitter that will be helpful for an Open Education learning journey:

Digital Citizenship = Activism?

Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile? This is the question that I have been reflecting on this week. When I look at my social media presence, it is primarily educational and inspirational content. I don’t post much of my own content instead I will share or retweet information that I find important in the field of education. Rarely, do I engage in anything that could be considered “activism.” My reason for this is that I am not a loud person in “real life” and I don’t want to be different online.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was speaking with a colleague about this after our class trying to navigate my thoughts about social media activism. My colleague mentioned that even though I am not a “loud person” they know what I stand for because of the subtle things that I will do. This got me thinking, it is important to me to be the same person online that I am in real life. I can repost or retweet in my way for things that I stand for. This is what I have started to do. So, after much reflection, I believe that social media activism can be meaningful and worthwhile and I am going to try to participate more in activism online, in my way.

What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online? This is another interesting question for me as I have a rule for my social media which is that I do not accept students as “friends” until they have graduated. I have always thought that I want to keep my personal life and professional life separated. This would prevent me from being a model of active citizenship online. The way that I feel I can be a model is by teaching my students and children about digital citizenship.

Here are some websites that have lesson plans and other useful information for teaching digital citizenship and starting thoughts conversations in the classroom.

  • Media Smarts- This is an infographic which shows presents findings related to digital media literacy and digital citizenship. This would be a great discussion for a middle years/ high school classroom.
  • Media Smarts- Lesson plans for grades 7- 9 on Engaging in social media online.
74% of young Canadians feel like they contribute positive things in online spaces and 55% post content online about a cause or event they care about
@MediaSmarts Tweet

How do you feel about students having access to your social media accounts?


According to the 2023 Planting Calendar: when to plant your vegetables for my area, the window to plant tomatoes started this week. So, Wednesday evening once it cooled down, into the garden they went. See the video below to find out how I planted my tomatoes.

Image by Axel Mellin from Pixabay – Tomato planting!– The tomatoes are planted!

This week’s learning is from:

  • TikTok- Now that I am connected, I am going to stick to TikTok for everything Tomato. Here are a few accounts that I have really liked for Tomato content.
TikTok @jacquesinthegarden
TikTok @parkerpastures

TikTok @kia_urbangardener


The grass clippings, orange peels and egg shells seem to be keeping the cat out of the garden!

Finally, here are some updated pictures of what is happening in the yard this week.


Next week, is cucumber week!

Animation Treat Yourself GIF by Holler Studios

Growing green! Thank you rain!

Take a tour with me to see how the garden is growing!

The work in the garden this week was mostly maintenance including weeding and cleaning out last year’s growth from the side flowerbeds.

The current state of peonies.
First rose bloom.
Hosta, growing by the day.

My main learning focus this week was proper care of peonies, lawn care and how to keep cats out of my vegetable garden bed.


Tips and Tricks for Peonies. This short Youtube video answered all my questions and even identified the kind of peony I have. Our home is 40 years old. We moved in last June and all of the gardens are already mature. I have no idea how long some of the plants have been there but I do know that the peony plant is well established. From the video, it appears that I have a double-bloom garden peony. They like the sun and can grow 3- 4 feet wide and tall. To grow bigger blooms, I can pinch off small side buds, which is similar to how to grow better tomatoes. Finally, established peonies don’t require much care in the spring and I should cut them back to 3 inches in the fall which I didn’t do last fall but did pull it all out this week.

I found another helpful article on Caring for Peonies: 10 Tips and Tricks. I always see ants on the peony buds. The ants don’t harm or help the buds they just love the taste of the nectar, who knew!?! Also, because the flowers are so big, they can be very heavy so staking the plant can help, even using a tomato cage. I have a little fence and a rope holding mine. I will see how that holds up this year.

Lawn care

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Lawn care seems to be the ongoing “issue” in my yard. We are keeping the grass longer so it doesn’t get burnt and watering it daily in the early morning. The No Mow May article I previously mentioned, suggested cutting the grass every two weeks. Since I made the above video, we decided to cut the grass this evening. I found another article called Slow Mow Summer suggested that it’s not the time between mowings but the length that should determine when to cut and never cut more than a third of the length. This is how we decided to cut the grass today. With all the recent rain the grass is growing like crazy!

Stop the Cat

Finally, someone or something is digging in my vegetable garden….The size of the prints leads me to believe it is the friendly neighbour cat that I often see crossing through the yard. I want to safely deter the cat from stopping in the garden. I found an article on the David Suzuki FDNs Twitter page which gave many ideas I am trying this week. I have added orange peels as citrus is supposed to deter the cat as well as egg shells and pine cones to make it uncomfortable to walk on. Finally, I added grass clippings so the nice soft dirt is hidden.

Best resources this week came from Youtube, Feedly and Twitter.

Stop by next week for an update on the project Stop the Cat as well as tomato planting. I have found lots of great information I am looking forward to sharing and also planting my tomatoes this week.

Twitterpated by Twitter?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Twitterpated as  1. Love-struck, besotted; infatuated, obsessed. Also: excited, thrilled. That is not quite how I would describe my relationship with Twitter as it is a bit extreme. However, I am beginning to develop a positive relationship with Twitter. We are still taking it slow at this point and some days I feel like Bambi trying to get my footing.

If you check my Twitter account @MmeLBlair it will tell you I have been a member since October 2015. It is true. I remember signing up at the Saskatchewan Middle Years Convention in Saskatoon. I was inspired and ready to engage on Twitter… but it looks like my first post came on July 21, 2016 when my boyfriend (now, husband) and I took a trip to Toronto. In order to get a free copy of a photo, you had to tweet it. Anything for a free picture.

My first Tweet, in Toronto, wearing the sunglasses we had just won at the filming of the Marlyn Denis Show.

Fast forward to January 2022 when I started my graduate studies journey taking my first class with Katia. We were encouraged to start our Twitter journey. This is where my appreciation and more intentional use of Twitter began. The main use for my Twitter feed has been professional learning. I am making connections with many teachers, educational researchers and others who are passionate about student success. I read articles that make me reflect on my practices, inspire me to try new times or encourage me with a positive message. I retweet Tweets that are meaningful to me. The only content on my own that I share is related to the classes I am taking.

I am finding Twitter to be a great professional development tool which I intend to continue to pursue following this class. I have never taken part in a Twitter chat yet, that will be my next step.

A follow of my favourite handles are: @Teachergoals (inspirational quotes), @alicekeeler (Google expert), @TCEA (a mix of educational information) and Mme Lockhart (French Immersion teacher) to name of few.

I would love some feedback!

  1. Have you taken part in a Twitter chat? Can you provide some helpful hints?
  2. Who are some of your favourite educational handles to follow?

Happy Tweeting!

To TikTok or not to TikTok?

Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, oh my! Twitter and Discord now give TikTok a try.

This week I signed up for an account and started exploring TikTok. Truth be told, I am not into it yet. My little interaction with the platform hasn’t drawn me in. When I use other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, I rarely watch the videos. Since TikTok is all videos, perhaps that is why it isn’t drawing me in. I found this video to see what I was missing from exploring blindly for a few days. It goes through all the features of Tiktok and how to use the mobile app on an iPhone.

I started looking for teachers and other educators to follow. I have found a few. I am not seeing the content that I would look for in social media such as lesson ideas, classroom management and reading intervention/strategies. What I am seeing are teacher outfits and classroom setups. However, I recently found this article with more ideas for using hashtags to help me find teachers using TikTok. Some of the most popular hashtags are #teachertips, #classroommanagement and #studentengagment. These are more of my area of interest that I will dive into in the coming weeks.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This next article is a must-read for teachers and parents. It is CBC article called Some teachers are using TikTok to reach teens but concerns over app’s effects persist. It presents many interesting ideas to consider. One is that TikTok is where many teens are getting their news from. This could be an opportunity for the teens to ask questions about what they are seeing but also for teachers and parents to talk to their children/ students about what news they are seeing. Opening up the chance for discussion. TikTok can capture attention and spark curiosity as one of the contributors says. This article points out the fact that the videos are all short and you move on to the next. What is this doing to the attention span of youth and how will this affect them at school?

This week, I also had a conversation with my 12-year-old nephew about TikTok. I learned that he does have an account and thinks that there are some bad things on there. I asked if he felt there was any educational value. He thought there was because he could watch cooking and baking videos to help him learn new things as baking is one of his interests. Otherwise, Auntie, it’s not very good. That got me thinkings and searching for more articles. My takeaway from these articles is that TikTok is really no different from other social media platforms when it comes to pros and cons. Cyberbullying can happen on any of the platforms as well as getting down “rabbit holes” looking for information.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

The first article is 8 Pros and Cons of TikTok. I found that these pros and cons could apply to any platform. For example, some pros are: it’s entertaining, it’s a creative outlet and you could make friends. Making friends is one that makes me a bit nervous. The cons are: being exposed to sexual predators, it can harm your privacy and the negative comments that can be received. All of this leads me to the importance of educating our children/ students on how we can protect our privacy and being aware of the other cons.

The next two articles that would be important for parents and teachers to be aware of comes from the Cyber Bullying Research Centre website. The first is another list of pros and cons. There are some great points here that would be important for adults to be aware of to share with children. One is that when you sign up for an account it is automatically public. You have to go into the setting to set up your privacy settings. That article led me to the TikTok Top Ten Tips for Teens. This is a great place for parents and teens to start having a conversation about the platform and how to use it more safely.

I also went looking for #gardening ideas to help with my major project. This is where I found some success and a few accounts that will be helpful going forward. Stay tuned for more from @texasgardenguy . He has lots of great gardening tips.

I see both pros and cons of using TikTok. Will I continue once this class is complete, I am not sure, yet! My biggest takeaway is to continue to have conversations with students and children about the social media they are using to help them use it safely but also as connection point. I look forward to having further conversations with my nephew on the topic.

What are some of your favourite accounts to follow as an educator or other?

Week 2- Gardening update

No time for wasting. This week, I jumped into my online research as I knew I would soon have to get my garden in the ground.

First, I joined the Saskatchewan Gardeners Facebook page. I made a post to determine if one of my plants was a flower or a weed. Very quickly, I had 50 comments about my plant…not a weed!  It is a poppy! One of the commenters was able to identify one of the other plants in the picture. I used the Plant look-up tool on my iPhone in my pictures which confirmed what the comment said, it is a Lamb’s Ear.

My Facebook post to the Saskatchewan Gardens group.
Plant Look-up in my iPhone pictures.
Plant Look- up to confirm Lamb’s Ear

Next, I used Feedly to start gathering articles related to my topic. I really like this site. I have to check only one place every few days and read the new articles. I have also found that some of the article sources are better than others and can look on those pages for other articles of interest. Here are a few articles that I found helpful this week:

Lawn care: From this article, I learned that I should mow the lawn every two weeks and keep the lawn length to 3.5 inches. It also talks about not cutting the grass in May. We had already cut the grass this month so I was too late to take that advice. The reason for that is to help with pollination. Other ideas for pollination that were given are to put a Hummingbird feeder, bird bath, bee house and a variety of coloured flowers to attract pollinators. So far, we have added a Hummingbird feeder and bird bath to our front garden bed. Below are not my pictures, I hope to have a few of my own pictures with birds soon.

Image by George from Pixabay
Image by Ralph from Pixabay

Growing Vegetables– I took the advice from this article to prepare my vegetable garden for planting. I added cow manure to the soil and mixed it up together to raise the nutrient level in the soil. They also suggested adding fertilizer to the soil before planting, which we did. The greenhouse had cow manure and sheep manure. In reading both packages they seemed to do the same thing so of course I asked my toddler if he would rather have cow poop or sheep poop in the garden. His choice was cow so cow manure it is.

This article is specifically about tomatoes. They prefer full sun in the garden, which helped decide on garden placement. We purchased Beefsteak seedlings as they have the potential to grow larger tomatoes. Stay tuned for more about tomatoes in a later post.

My helper mixing the soil.
Garden divided and seeds planted.
Garden as of May 22, 2023

When to Plant?: This site has lots of great information for beginner gardeners such as the easiest veggies to grow, how to decide what to plant, and guidelines for arranging the vegetables in the garden. This article led me to the planting calendar. This is a very cool web page. You input your postal code and it tells you when is the best time to plant seeds and seedlings based on the last frost in that area. I learned that I am late planting my carrot, green bean and pea seeds. They should have been in the ground by May 11th and I got them in the ground May 21st. I will plant my tomato plants and cucumber plants between June 15th and 29th as the almanac suggests.

Companion planting: The article shows which vegetables should be planted together and which you should avoid for the best growth. I used this article to decide the best placement for the vegetables and which vegetables to plant.

I also watched this video to help me decide on plant placement in the garden. The video and article are about square-foot garden designs. Look back at the garden picture and notice black tape. This is where I measured out each foot to help space the garden properly.

The last thing for this week is Aeration. My brother called me and said he was renting an aeration machine for an evening, would I like my lawn done as well? How perfect, I thought. This will fit in so well with my project, that he is unaware of.  Of course, I told him to come on over. I did the research after the aeration was done. It will allow to the water to get in deep to the roots and help with the compression of the lawn.

My brother, hard at work aerating the lawn.

I hope you will come back next week to see how the garden is growing, learn about spring perennial care and find out what other mystery plants are growing in my flower beds. I would love any tips, tricks or gardening advice you have to share!

One of three beautiful Tulips in my garden.
Updated picture of the spring-cleaned perennial bed with the Humminbird feeder and birdbath included.